From fights to riots to third-world military interventions ...

tool4Tool

Grammy-winning, multiplatinum-selling quartet Tool has perfected what Rolling Stone calls "a primal sound as distinct as it is disturbing." The Los Angeles band (singer Maynard James Keenan, guitarist Adam Jones, bassist Justin Chancellor and drummer Danny Carey) assembled in 1990 and has since become one of the godfathers of the "progressive metal" movement.

"We played up at Boise, Idaho, one time. It was an outdoor thing and quite a few people showed up. I remember this horrible feeling looking at the crowd when all these malicious, skinhead psychos showed up and started beating people up to our music. We had to cut the set short out of fear that someone was going to get beat to death. That was pretty grim. ... I remember it being a tough decision. We just got in a huddle onstage and said, 'Man, what are we gonna do? Every time we start playing a song all these fists just start flying.'"

— Danny Carey, Tool

 

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sex-pistols1The Sex Pistols

When the first line ever written by a band is "I am an antichrist," that's a lot to live up to. And though the images of singer Johnny Rotten bassist Sid Vicious, drummer Paul Cook and guitarist Steve Jones in ripped T-shirts, dyed hair and sporting safety-pin jewelry look more contemporary than shocking by today's standards, in 1977 England they were the closest thing to Satan that the country had seen. The Sex Pistols were considered a genuine threat to the "British way of life." As a result, the reaction to them far over-reached what most musical groups deserve. This disdain for the band came from the record industry as well. When the quartet's classic single "God Save the Queen" was released, the BBC banned it. When it went to number one anyway, the slot was left blank rather than admitting which artist occupied the top position. To modern audiences, The Sex Pistols are regarded as the greatest and most influential punk band of all time, and their lone record, "Never Mind the Bollocks," remains a genuine classic -- and a Platinum-selling one at that.

"One has really stuck in my mind as my worst gig scenario. I remember it well because it was my 40th birthday on the Pistols reunion in '96. It was my 40th birthday, and I thought it was going to be a great day. It was in Belgium actually, by the seaside somewhere. We got on the train from London to Belgium, the Eurostar that went to Brussels. I was going to keep it quiet, but someone mentioned it was my birthday. This was 9 o'clock in the morning, so it kind of gave everyone the excuse to get the champagne out. You can guess that by the time we arrived in Belgium, everyone was really tanked up. ... Basically, it just turned into a nightmare. By the time we took to the stage, John had completely lost his voice. Consequently, nobody could hear what was going on onstage. I don't think anything was coming out of the PA, vocal-wise. Then it turned into total chaos; it got worse. I don't know what happened, but there was a mass brawl between security and people actually fighting onstage. I think someone tried to attack John, and he started hitting him with a microphone. I remember a stretcher coming onstage as well. Somebody was knocked out. There was blood spilt onstage, and there was fighting going on. It just seemed to escalate. ... We were still playing away while somebody was being carried off on a stretcher -- one of the security guys. It was just one of those gigs, and I was expecting to have a really good day for my birthday. ... It was a classic rock and roll gig, I guess. What was the most miraculous thing about it all was that at the end we actually got an encore. People wanted more!"

— Paul Cook, The Sex Pistols

Joe SatrianiJoe Satriani

Joe Satriani first came to prominence as a "guitar teacher to the stars," with Steve Vai, Metallica's Kirk Hammett and Counting Crows' David Bryson spreading kudos as pupils. Soon, however, the teacher had become renowned on his own, following the 1987 release of his platinum-selling "Surfing With the Alien." Although he's spent time filling in as a member of noted bands (Deep Purple) and as a sideman for other stars (Mick Jagger, Alice Cooper), Satriani tours almost every year with G3, a concert tour he founded that partners him with two other renowned six-stringers, from Queen's Brian May to Journey's Neal Schon.

"That would be the Malaysian show. ... It (started) four hours late, so we went on at four in the morning. And it was in this stadium that holds 100,000 people. But it was raining so there were only about 2,000 people there. Before us there was Jethro Tull, there was Sugar Ray ... Toto -- just the weirdest group of bands ever. It was a two-day festival. Anyway, someone wakes me up at 3:30 a.m. and says, 'You're going on at 4 a.m.'

"So I get down there, I'm in the middle of the second song -- which is 'Satch Boogie' -- and the (Malaysian) army comes onstage with machine guns. They threaten to put us in jail unless we stop immediately. So I put down my guitar, I picked up my backpack and I left the stadium.

"I have no idea (why they needed me to stop), but I didn't argue. When you're in a country like that and they show up onstage with weapons -- you know I came packed because I knew from experience that sometimes you gotta be ready. So I literally put on my backpack and gave my guitar to my tech.

"I said, 'Put it in the case and come with me now.'

"Then we got in a car and left, and three hours later I was at the airport flying home."

— Joe Satriani

 

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Mike FinniganMike Finnigan

Mike Finnigan was a 19-year-old student at the University of Kansas when he became the proud owner of a Hammond B3 organ. Since then he's transformed into one of the premier purveyors of the instrument. His collaborations have ranged from blues greats Buddy Guy and Etta James, to pop stars Peter Frampton and Rod Stewart, to rockers Jane's Addiction and Poison. He also spent years touring with Crosby, Stills and Nash. But he is perhaps best known for contributing organ to the tracks "Rainy Day, Dream Away" and "Still Raining, Still Dreaming" from Jimi Hendrix's classic "Electric Ladyland."

"When I was starting out I used to play in nightclubs for like weeks at a time. You'd go somewhere and play for two weeks in a club and then they might pick up an option and hold you over. I remember being forcibly held over by a mobbed-up joint -- guys that were part of the broken nose club. ... I was a young guy, and these guys were legitimately gangsters. They were like the real thing. They weren't like just faux tough guys, they were really mobbed up in those days. Like in Youngstown, Ohio, it was like Crimetown, USA. The guy who owned it was a known guy.

"I told him in advance we had another commitment -- it was just before Christmas -- back in Kansas City, and we'd been out in the Midwest and the East for a couple of months.

"I said, 'There's no option on this. We can only do the two weeks.'

"He said, 'Fine.'

"Then after a couple of days he was like, 'We really like your band, I'm thinking about holding you over.'

"I said, 'Don't forget, I told you we had this commitment.'

"Then a couple days later he said, 'I've decided to hold you over.'

"I said, 'But what about ...'

"He said, 'Kid, you don't get it. You're staying!'

"(So we stayed another) two weeks."

— Mike Finnigan

 

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henry-rollinsHenry Rollins

In another era, Henry Rollins would likely be regarded as a "renaissance man." He's the type of person who's achieved success in so many different fields that to define him by only one is not just lazy but mildly insulting. The musician/actor/writer/poet/columnist/VJ/television host/pop culture luminary first gained fame in 1981 as the frontman for the seminal California punk band Black Flag. With few exceptions, Rollins seems to be the rare singer who has created a cottage industry around his everyday voice. Whatever the scenario, the Grammy-winning performer can never be accused of being dull.

"There have been a few. Not because we sucked, because I've never been onstage with a band that was high. Equipment failure was detrimental at times. In Singapore, everything basically blew up onstage; everything went poof. We had to play through the PA. No amps onstage, just plugged in direct. It sounded awful. One time in Austria in 1983 there was a riot inside the venue. The police came in. The fans beat up the cops. The fans beat up the bouncers. A guy punched me and laid me out on the ground. That gig was like, 'How are we gonna get through this? No one seems to be interested in music. They're just interested in beating the crap out of everyone, including us.'"

— Henry Rollins

los_lonely_boysLos Lonely Boys

Guitarist Henry, bassist Jojo and drummer Ringo Garza began touring as grade schoolers while backing their father, Ringo Garza Sr., a conjunto musician who came to prominence during the 1970s in The Falcones. Eventually, the younger Garzas struck out on their own as Los Lonely Boys. Upon the release of a 2004 self-titled debut, the Texas trio began racking up hit singles and Grammy nods via their fusion of Tex-Mex rock and guitar-driven blues.

"Man, it's tough to recap and recall the worst gig -- there are so many of them that went south. Basically, when we first started out, I would have to say that was one of the worst gigs. We were doing a show in ... I think it was Big Springs, Texas. We were playing a show with a conjunto band named Michael Salgado. They were playing, and they were kind enough to let our dad and us play with their stuff. We got up on the stage, and while we were playing, somebody shot one of (their) members. Our dad's theory of music was, 'Never stop no matter what's going on! Don't stop!' At first we didn't realize what was going on. We just saw a big commotion and heard the sound, but we were still going along. There was pepper gas flying everywhere. It was a big crowd, a big fight, and everything started breaking out. ... So we're looking at each other and were like, 'We should stop.' We vacated the premises as quick as we could. We didn't want no more bullets flying."

— Henry Garza, Los Lonely Boys

starship1Jefferson Starship

After a nine-year run as one of the pioneering psychedelic acts of the 1960s, Jefferson Airplane changed its name to Jefferson Starship and began a chart-topping ride that continues to this day -- give or take a few years hiatus. The Bay Area act forged its prolific career through classic-rock staples ("Jane," "Miracles," "Find Your Way Back") and dubious commercial hits ("We Built This City"). Although the lineup changes occur so frequently as to be almost comical, the band's arena-rock legacy is hard to dispute.

"We were playing a gig in Germany at the Loreley Amphitheater (in 1978). The Beach Boys and Chicago had canceled out back-to-back shows at this place, and people were pissed off. Half the crowd was German and the other half were American Marines. There were people in the crowd with gasoline cans. The first band had already played, and they figured the show was really going to go on this time. But Grace (Slick) had diarrhea and was throwing up. She wasn't going to go on. They asked me to go out to make the announcement.

"I said, 'You've got to be crazy. I'm not going to go out there. They're going to kill me.'

"So (keyboardist David) Freiberg said he'd go out there. There was dead silence when he said, 'We'll make the gig up, but Grace is deathly ill.'

"I was standing next to one of my roadies by my drums, and a Heineken bottle came flying through the air. It hit him in the head and he went down like a bowling pin.

"Then a full-bore riot ensued. The Marines were fighting with the Germans. There was military there and police. One of the Germans was drunk and had a broken bottle, and he was coming up to one of the regular German police. And the policeman took his gun out and was going to waste the guy right there. It was Altamont all over again.

"Amilitary policeman said, 'You don't have to do that.'

"He pushed the policeman's gun down with his stick and said, 'All you have to do is this!'

"And he hit (the drunk guy) over the head with his stick."

— Johny Barbata, Jefferson Starship